An elderly man driving a car in flames attempted to hit a police station in Merrylands, Australia on Thursday night. Law enforcement officials said the attack has not been linked to any terrorist organization. The man has already been arrested.
No police officers were injured, although the attacker suffered from severe burns. Local media said the man has a history of mental illness and is around 60 years old. He is being cared at the Westmead Hospital in New South Wales. A police officer told the Telegraph that the man tried to set himself on fire and intended to harm other people. The area around the Memorial Ave police station has been locked down. A forensic team and a bomb squad are already examining the vehicle.
The man had parked his car near a police station. When a police officer approached him, he ignited gasoline and drove the car into the door of the parking garage at the station, said The Washington Post.
Witnesses told local media that police officers detained the vehicle while it was still moving. They immediately proceeded to save the man inside the car. Police extinguished the flames, although a Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit arrived later in the area.
The vehicle was apparently equipped with gas bottles, which did not explode. Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford told the Daily Telegraph that officers are “keeping an open mind” on the case. However, they haven’t found any link to terrorism.
Man arrested after ‘very deliberate’ bombing attempt on police station in Australia https://t.co/2J7o58a5sf
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) July 21, 2016
Conservative MP George Christensen retracted after saying the attack was the result of ‘radical Islam’
George Christensen, a conservative Member of the Australian House of Representatives, said on Facebook that the same police station had previously received terror threats. He also invited Australians to take action against “radical Islamism.”
“I wonder how quickly some idiot is going to inanenly say this has nothing to do with Islam or talk about a religion of peace of blame those who oppose radical Islam or even Australia as a whole for marginalizing some “disaffected youth,” said Christensen on a deleted Facebook post.
The politician later issued a second statement on Facebook, after law enforcement officials declared that the incident had not been related to terrorism. He said that his first point was still relevant and “the political and media elite” should change their attitudes towards terrorism.
Christensen suggested that Australians should discuss “the rise of radical Islam” within the country and what it could mean to national security.
“We need to work out what we do about it,” he said on Facebook.
Dennis Clifford stated that it remains unknown why the man intended to hit the police station. He added that police officers “reacted very bravely” and that no other people have been injured.
Nick Ralston, crime and justice editor at The Sydney Morning Herald, remarked that the man was known to police, but they have found no link to any terror organization. The incident has raised concern about how should Australia react to terror attacks.
Man involved in Merrylands incident known to police but not believed to have had any known links to a terrorist org, police source says.
— Nick Ralston (@NickDRalston) July 21, 2016
Source: The Daily Telegraph